Ironman 70.3 Austin - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Austin, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
50F / 10C
Total Time = 5h 41m 47s
Overall Rank = 537/2500
Age Group = M 40-44
Age Group Rank = 84/286
Pre-race routine:

I got the endurance bug a few years back from my assistant. She had just completed a marathon. I could not wrap my head around it. She didn’t look like a superhero. When I asked her how she did it, she said "oh it wasn't that big a deal. I walked when I got tired."
That simple statement flipped a switch in me. Of course! you just put one foot in front of the other. It can take as long as it takes.
So I set out to prepare to run a local marathon in the summer of 2007. But I am a portfolio manager by trade and in late 2007, our whole industry fell apart. The Marathon goal got downgraded to a ½. Just didn’t have the time to train.
But I completed my first 13.1 in 2:22. I think I might have cried at the finish line.
Fast forward a few years. I lost 25 lbs with the help of Crossfit and a good coach. My 13.1 pr dropped to 1:45. I ran a handful of marathons but couldn’t get faster than 4:20. I always cramped. Somewhere between mile 16 and 20 I would lock up and have to hobble in.
Last spring, I was fed up with marathons so I decided to try triathlon as a way to get through the texas summer. I did a few sprints, a couple of Oly's and Austin 70.3 with the help of Crossfit Endurance. I also ran a couple of 26.2's I cramped in all 3 long events. I just resigned myself to it.
My Austin 70.3 time was 6:07 with a 41:30 swim, a 3:07 bike and a 2:11 run (welcome to crampy town!)
This spring, I decided that I wanted to try more time on my bike and less time powercleaning to get ready for another triathlon season. In my search for a coaching system I found EN's website. I read about how EN Rx'd higher intensity over fewer hours than most other programs. Given my background, that sounded good. After the 5 day free look, I figured I would give it a try.

EN was a tough transition. The hours were about the same but wow, so much biking! And we actually ran slowly for extended periods of time.

5 Months later and in addition to the training sessions (which make up about 10% of what I get from EN) I have learned about power, pacing, what a box is and how to stay in it, how to fuel a 70.3 (thx core diet. worth the money 10x in my case) how to ride hills and how to love pickle juice. I have a few hundred coaches who all know their way around a course.

Pre race:
Core diet suggests a big breakfast the day before a 70.3. This worked out great for me. The Austin race is only 90 miles up the road so I spent Saturday morning making pancakes and eggs with my 3yr old and 6 yr old girls. We had a blast. They were not used to seeing me early on a Saturday morning. By the time we were done, cleaned up and I had them out the door with mom it was time for me to head up to Austin. The Austin race site is in the middle of nowhere. It made more sense from an SAU perspective for me to go do this race solo. So I packed up the car and drove up to Austin.

I got to Austin later than I had planned. I also forgot about what a logistical cluster this race it. 2 transitions about a mile or two apart. Lots of lines. By the time I got signed in, dropped my run bag in at T2 it was getting on in the afternoon. I went to bike check in and was advised to carry my bike to the rack because folks were getting flats on the way to the rack. Yikes! I put the toe covers on my shoes (It was going to be 46 degrees at start time) and set my bike up. I decided to hold my bike bag and the rest of my bike supplies overnight so that I could practice getting changed a few times. Plus I didn’t like the idea of leaving it all out overnight.

I had planned to get a short swim in at the race site. This pre race swim has become important to me this year. I had done 4 races this season. A sprint, 2 olys and Mt Tremblant 70.3. In the first race of the season, a non-wetsuit Oly, I had major swim freak out. I could not get my breathing under control. It was ugly. Lots of dog paddle. If there had been a canoe near by I would have quit. So for the next 3 races I made a point of getting to the venue a day or so early and swimming on the course. Just playing around in the water. No more swim freak out. Standing at the edge of the water Saturday afternoon in Austin, I decided not to go for a swim. It was really cold. No one else was swimming. I was afraid of getting in trouble etc etc. I put my hands in the water and reminded myself that I had raced this course before.

That night I stayed off my feet. No kids. It was pretty relaxing.

I got up at 4:45. Core diet said a ton of apple sauce and some protein powder 3hrs before race time. So at 5am I got after it. 3 cups is a TON of applesauce. I puttered around for another hour or so and then packed up the car and headed for the race site. Parking is near the finish line so you take busses to the start/T1 area. I misjudged the amount of time it would take to get from parking through the bus lines at over to T1 to set up. When I got off the bus I heard the announce say that T1 would close in 15 min. Yikes. Ok. Stay calm.

I headed for T1 and was turned away because I had not been body marked. Go get body marked and come back. 10 minutes to T1 closing. Running around looking for body mark. 2 minutes later I came to the conclusion that there just wasn’t time. I had on a sweatshirt over my wetsuit due to the cold. So I just put myself in the center of a pack of people on the way in to T1 and when they asked if I had been marked I said yes. Not much I could do at that point. The mistake had been made hours earlier when I didn’t mark myself and get there earlier.

I get the bike loaded up and as an after thought I squeeze the tires. WHAT!?!?!?! The rear is dead flat. 5 minutes till t1 closes. Take the rear wheel of and head for the mechanic. I am like 8th in line. Everyone has flats. The race starts and the pro's head out. Macca was there. So was Potts. Never saw em. Ate my power bar during the 20 minute that I stood in line. Drank pickle juice bottle #1. I could have changed the tire myself but I figured that I would let the pro do it. And really, my race didn’t start till I crossed the start line so I might as well relax and have everything ready before I cross the timing mat.

As it turned out, I got the wheel back on and got down to the water as my wave was going off. Time to race.

Event warmup:

standing in line wondering if I would get off with my wave
  • 43m 6s
  • 2112 yards
  • 02m 02s / 100 yards

What a mess. About 50m in, I got a lung full of water and the swim freak out returned. Chest tightness, couldn’t catch my breath. I looked for a canoe. I was not going to race. The panic is too much and the thoughts of being one of those poor folks who drown were getting the better of me.

No canoe to be found. The closest floating object was the first buoy so I swam to it and held on for a bit. After settling down a little, I decided to swim to the next buoy and do the same thing. At this point, I had decided that not only was I not going to go for IMFL next year, I was never doing another triathlon. I was day dreaming about cyclocross. I made it to buoy 2 and held on again. I went for #3. By the time I got to #3, I realized that it was the first turn of the triangle. It was kind a crowded so I decided to press on. As I worked my way along side #2, I calmed down. No more stops. fewer breaks. As I rounded the turn onto triangle side #3 I was myself again. Getting annoyed with the people frog kicking in front of me.

When I came out of the water and saw 43 minutes, a few thoughts struck me. The first was: wow. crappy swim time. I have dug myself a hole already. The second was that the difference between my best HIM swim ever and my worst HIM ever was 3 minutes. At my ability level, it just dose not matter. For me, success on the swim is more about how comfortable and relaxed I am because the times just don’t vary much. Lastly, I will never omit the pre race swim again.
Looking at my splits in the water, the first section with the stops I was swimming 2min/100y, side 2 was 1:49/100y and side 3 was 1:45.

The really shocking thing to me now is that 121 people in my age group managed to swim slower than I did.

What would you do differently?:

swim at the race venue a day or two before. no excuses. remember that if the freak out comes on, that it will pass.
Transition 1
  • 05m 1s

T1 was long. But I knew it would be. It was cold out so there was more clothing to put on and I would need to carry my bike out of transition given the spontaneous flats that were occurring. Plus, I wanted to down pickle juice bottle #2 and a powergel before I left the rack.
5 minutes. So between swim and bike, I was 2:30 behind last year's pre EN pace.

What would you do differently?:

Not sure. I could have gone faster by running with my bike, skippingthe pickle juice break, using the strippers. But I would have been colder, risked another flat and risked cramps.
  • 2h 53m 13s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.40 mile/hr

My Sunday rides took a huge turn for the better after talking with the core diet folks. They upped my cal intake majorly and it really agreed with me. So I was curious as to how this would play out. On the bike I drank 4 bottles of perform and had a powergel every 30 min.
My Garmin got wonky very early on and I wasn’t getting 5mi splits after the first 10 miles. But it was displaying 30s power so I just tried to ride as close to target as I could. I rode from gel break to gel break. My focus was mostly on staying on power and drinking the bottle I had before the next aid station. I did not once look at my speed or my time. Just power.
Core Diet and EN suggest that if you are drinking enough, you will need to pee once on a 70.3 bike. I went 3 times.

The course is pretty ugly. The roads are pretty bad. In many places all we had was the shoulder and some cones separating us from traffic.

After Mt Tremblant, I may be spoiled for life when it comes to roads and bike leg traffic management.

What would you do differently?:

have a regular, non gps bike computer to display power data as a back up.
Transition 2
  • 03m 52s

I felt good coming off the bike but I didn’t really know what my split was. T2 was 3:52. Stopped to have yet another gel and pickle juice #3. I let the sun block folks work me over because by this time the sun was out and it was getting warm.
What would you do differently?:

I guess I could have hurried more. But I wanted to take the time to let me heart rate settle.
  • 1h 56m 35s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 54s  min/mile

The run is a 3 loop course. rolling mix of road and dirt. No steep hills like Mt Tremblant had, but no flat sections either.

My plan was to run by heart rate. I wanted to be around 150bpm for lap one with a cap at 155. For lap 2 I would let that drift to an avg of 155 with a cap of 160. Lap 3 would be whatever I had left with the real "line being at mile 11. But the real deal with the run was that I was either going to cramp or I wasn’t. If I did, I would have a slight PR and another "what if" race. If I didn’t cramp, well, who knows.

Lap 1 was an avg hr of 147 with a max of 154. It took a mile or two to get my HR up to target. With the constantly rolling terrain, my mile splits were all over the map. I just kept my eyes on my heart rate.
Lap 2 was an avg hr of 153 with a max of 157. I felt the urge a couple of times to go harder on this lap. But I have never gotten to the end of one of these without blowing up so I just kept my eyes on my heart rate and tried to relax.
Lap 3 was an avg hr of 158 with a max of 165. I kept my eye on it for the first mile or so. Having gone a couple of loops already, I knew where on the course I felt like I could let my legs go a bit and where I would want to settle. Once I got to mile 11 I quit looking at my watch and just tried to push. I was worried about cramps. Usually I was cramping badly by this point and every now and then the thought would creep into my head. When the cramping thoughts came, I tried to replace them with something else. Almost like I figured that if I let myself think about cramping, I would cramp. I did have a secret 4th bottle of pickle juice in a flask tucked in my tri suit pocket just in case.

I still didn’t really have much of an idea as to what time I was running. I figured that I was going to run about 2hrs but I had no idea what my bike time had been. All I knew was that my wave went off 30 minutes after the pros kicked off the race.

The finish line in Austin is inside an old rodeo arena (of course…). You run through a tunnel and it takes a second for your eyes to adjust and then you see the arch. I knew that I would see the clock on the arch and I was hoping hard that it would read something less than 6:30. Under 6:30 would mean a PR and a time that started with a 5 which was my goal for the season. My super secret everything goes right goal was 5:45 but after the swim and t1 I figured that it was totally unrealistic.

As I went under the arch I saw 6:11. I was too foggy to do the math but I knew I had my 5 something time. It would be another 45 minutes before I got to the internet to see that I had gone 5:41. A 26 minute improvement over last year and a time that was not even on my radar screen.

What would you do differently?:

This was the first run that I didnt blow up on. I may have been a bit conservative. Will push the hr targets up a little next time.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

I learned a lot this year. Mostly about execution. Over the outseason I certainly plan on improving my fitness but I can see significant improvement coming next year just from fixing the execution errors that popped up in this race. I WILL ALWAYS SWIM ON THE COURSE THE DAY BEFORE. I WILL GET A REGULAR BIKE COMPUTER. I WILL GET TO TRANSITION SET UP EARLY. I WILL BE CONFIDENT IN THE LAST 1/3 OF THE RUN.

Event comments:

I have done this twice now but I dont think that I will be back. There are just too many other races out there that I would like to see. This course is convenient given how close it is to home but the roads are a mess and for long stretches there is just too much car traffic.

Last updated: 2012-10-29 12:00 AM
00:43:06 | 2112 yards | 02m 02s / 100yards
Age Group: 165/286
Overall: 1146/2500
Performance: Below average
Suit: full
Course: left turning triangle
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 71F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Average
Breathing: Bad Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 05:01
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
02:53:13 | 56 miles | 19.40 mile/hr
Age Group: 92/286
Overall: 553/2500
Performance: Good
garmin ate it.
Wind: Some
Course: figure 8. lots of turns. ugly pavement.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:52
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
01:56:35 | 13.1 miles | 08m 54s  min/mile
Age Group: 84/286
Overall: 5307/2500
Performance: Good
see comments
Course: see comments
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 3